A birthday is a very special day and it becomes even more important for siblings of ill children.  They often struggle with getting less attention from parents and not receiving gifts like their brother or sister does in the hospital.  Sibling Support Specialists at Friends of Karen encourage parents to make sibling birthdays as special as they can during these difficult times.  A birthday celebration may not be what it used to be, but taking the time to highlight a child on her/his special day will reinforce the love in the family. It does not need to be a huge “to do,” but a recognition of the day is all. Friends of Karen continues to send out birthday gifts to ill children and their siblings despite the pandemic. Our Birthday Program recognizes all children in the family are facing struggles and are special. 
 
With all that in mind when Creative Arts Therapist Jane saw what Erin’s Mom did for her daughter, she was thrilled.  Erin is 7 years old and has two siblings.  Her brother Elam is 3 years old and her sister Eden is 4 years old and was diagnosed with Leukemia.  Mom has her hands full between remote learning and doctor appointments, but still wanted to be sure Erin felt special on her birthday.  So despite COVID restrictions and a busy schedule, Mom threw an art themed birthday party for Erin.  She even set up a Zoom call so extended friends and family could wish Erin a happy birthday. Check out Jane’s interview with Erin about her birthday and her experience of being of a sibling of an ill child.
 
Tell me about your birthday…
We were painting. There was lots of colors, I colored a flower and blue stars. And people sang to me on Zoom. I wish they were there but its ok they were on Zoom. I love art and dancing. 
 
Right, not all your friends and family could come to your party because of COVID.  
Yeah and my sister is sick so we have not seen many people.  But I saw them on Zoom.  And my cousin and my brother and my sister came to my party. I am 7 now!
 
Tell me about your mom…
She cooks food and buys us ice cream, but we only get ice cream if we eat our food.  I like to crochet with her. She made me a great birthday!
 
What is it like to have siblings?
My sister has cancer so all her hair fell out. And she gets lots of toys.  Sometimes she doesn’t share her toys.  I don’t like that.  But when she goes to the hospital she gets lollipops.  She always gives me and my brother a lollipop, she doesn’t like them.  My favorite one is a red lollipop.  
 
As Jane notes, “I think this exemplifies how it is the simple things that are important in providing an opportunity for siblings to be recognized and supported by their family and those who love them!”  
 

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